Dirleton Castle and its grounds is a Scheduled Ancient Monument in the care of Historic Environment Scotland. The castle’s construction began around 1240 when in the hands of John de Vaux and was badly damaged twice when captured by English forces during the Wars of Scottish Independence. Afterwards it passed into the hands of the Haliburton family.
It was acquired by the Ruthven family in 1505 but in 1600 they were found guilty of plots against Mary Queen of Scots and James VI and had to forfeit it as punishment for their deeds. Although uninhabited the castle was besieged by Oliver Cromwell in 1650 as some Scottish troops had based themselves there. The castle then came under the ownership of John Nisbet, Lord Dirleton who, rather than restore it decided to build a new country house at nearby Archerfield. In 1923 the castle and grounds was given to the state.
The castle is surrounded by extensive parkland and includes the remains of an old bowling green created in the later 17th century, post 1663. It is thought that the bowling green was surrounded by yew planting and many of those yews still survive today in fine condition. However, some yews in the parkland are thought to date to the 16th century when gardens were created here by the Ruthvens. At the eastern boundary wall of the castle two yews stand in farmland and are in a storm battered condition and require further investigation as to their potential ages.